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By Jim Jordal

God presides in the great assembly. He judges among the gods. "How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked?" Selah. "Defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy. Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked." They don't know, neither do they understand. They walk back and forth in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are shaken.                                                 Psalm 82:1-5 WEB

You could call this Scripture God’s indictment of world political/social/economic systems that now appear to be in various states of disarray or collapse. And nobody seems to know what to do about the very threatening situation except to complain loudly and offer already-failed panaceas as solutions.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the present political blathering and mud-slinging took up some topic more vital than e-mail usage, campaign financing, or the organization of Congress? This passage from the Psalms gives strong indication as to what God’s values are for political discourse and nation-building.

How a nation treats the “least of these” among its citizens gives evidence as to its national values and moral behavior. God has a “preferential option” for the poor and needy, and this option when ignored or excessively politicized can break entire nations or empires.

The metaphor of God presiding in a great assembly of spiritual powers, challenging them to do justice, has great power because it specifically names the evil acts being done under their rule. According to God’s indictment they have “judged unjustly,” and “shown partiality to the wicked,” even as they failed to “maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” They haven’t acted to “rescue the poor and needy,” or “deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” Because of their malfeasance the world leaders don’t know or understand the pervasive anger being revealed on every hand by those who have been oppressed for centuries, but are now beginning to perceive the true sources of their suffering. They suffer because the purveyors of power and money pay only lip service to their angst, but are unwilling to make the changes necessary because they would then lose control of the nations they supposedly care for. So, as God says, the world truly does “walk back and forth in darkness,” as the “foundations of the earth are shaken.”

And why do our leaders so continuously fail to perceive what is now happening as the world order is shaken by natural disaster, endemic violence, political upheaval, endless war, and the breakdown of the social glue that formerly held society together? They don’t understand because they have discounted God and his word in their deliberations as to who will ascend the thrones of power.

Supposedly the religious establishment is the source of moral values and ethical behavior for national leaders and their people. And early in our history it was. But something slipped over the years as the generic church gradually lost its way by surrendering its moral mandate to the modern culture and the power of mammon, or the worship of money. Now mammon reigns supreme as the only true value of mega corporations and their earth-destroying policies. It’s evident in the oft-cited claims of business supporters that the only fiduciary duty of a corporation is to create as much financial return for its shareholders as possible.

What happened to the welfare of workers, or consumers, or the earth itself? It got lost in the struggle for more, more, more growth, profits, and economic freedom. Nothing else really matters in the long run.

The earth and its people cannot forever endure the depredations of giant corporations in their search for ever-more profits. But God won’t let it last forever, but only as long as we fail to heed his words of justice and deliverance.